Cal Poly’s newest campus cops really “nose” a few things about public safety. In fall 2016 two German Shepherd K-9 units, Xello and Brisant, joined the University Police Department (UPD).
Police dogs possess a highly developed sense of smell that aids in many aspects of public safety. “These dogs aren’t just extra sets of eyes and ears for our department,” said deputy UPD chief Brenda Trobaugh. “They can take us right to lost hikers with their incredible sense of smell. That alone is a very valuable skill to have.”
UPD officers Stepanie Pipan and Paul Davis serve as Xello’s and Brisant’s handlers, while also conducting their normal police duties. Pipan and Davis continually train their dogs, often working with them up to eight hours a day to ensure that the dogs obey consistently and only obey their handlers’ commands. K-9 training typically covers narcotics and explosive detection, search and rescue, and evidence detection techniques.
In addition to their campus duties, the K-9 units also provide their tracking services to other police departments across the county on an as-needed basis. They also serve as public relations ambassadors, trained specifically to create strong and lasting relationships with members of the community. Xello and Brisant also participate in Cal Poly’s animal science and veterinary programs, playing an important role in demonstrations and other Learn by Doing activities.
Ultimately, university K-9s are selected based on their temperament. “Our dogs are very gentle and good with people,” Trobaugh said.
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